Interview with Morton Newman
Interview with Morton Newman
Interview Date: February 5, 1992

Camera Rolls: 314:23-28
Sound Rolls: 314:13-16
Interview gathered as part of The Great Depression .
Produced by Blackside, Inc.
Housed at the Washington University Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Editorial Notes:

Preferred citation:
Interview with Morton Newman , conducted by Blackside, Inc. on February 5, 1992, for The Great Depression . Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

These transcripts contain material that did not appear in the final program. Only text appearing in bold italics was used in the final version of The Great Depression.

*
INTERVIEW
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QUESTION 1
INTERVIEWER:

OK, we're ready to begin. Tell me what the Depression was like in '34.

MORTON NEWMAN:

In [coughs] , in 1934, the Depression was reaching a very critical stage. Unemployment had been increasing across the country. California was a place of high unemployment. Young people like myself had little expectation of finding work.
** I had considered myself to be a printer, having taken printing in school and having edited my College paper and having worked in print shops, and the only kind of job I could find would be by going through the printing trade center in downtown Los Angeles, door to door. You'd ask, is there anything doing today?
** And if there was something doing, it meant that they knew you, knew what kind of work you could do, and they would put you to work for just the length of time that that operation required. If it was feeding envelopes, for example, in a press, you'd get paid twenty-five cents an hour. When the hour was over, you'd get your twenty-five cents and a thank you, and wouldn't know when there'd be any more work, for example. So that, it was, it was, and then of course the unemployment, without unemployment insurance, the fact that people were without income simply meant that the bread-lines were long, and people were seeking work and not finding it.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, just a moment-

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[production discussion]

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QUESTION 2
INTERVIEWER:

Let me just ask you something else, about you as a young person in the Depression, were you concerned, were you scared about your future, what life-

[production discussion]

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INTERVIEWER:

-scared about your future, what life would bring, at that point?

MORTON NEWMAN:

That's strange, but not really. I mean, it seemed like you were going to find some personal way and some social way-

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MORTON NEWMAN:

-with other people out of it. I would say, some people talk now about there being a pervasive hopelessness, at that time that was not the case. We were possibly too naive, but our expectations were high, I would say. Thought for what reason is something else, it would be hard to say. People that we knew were unemployed, our own parents, obviously, had sharp declines in their income, and all that, so that, but it was still the feeling that things could be done, and that there was going to be something better in the future.

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QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

OK, can you tell me what, when you first heard about Upton Sinclair?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, of course, I'd read books by Upton Sinclair as a younger person, in my grandparents' library I read _Oil!_, for example, and I had read _The Jungle_, so that he was known to me as a writer and as a political factor, because he was, he had run for public office as a Socialist. But the first time that I saw Upton Sinclair in person was at the invitation of some Methodist ministers, because Upton Sinclair was speaking to the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and I was invited to attend. Upton Sinclair, at that time, announced that he was thinking about running for governor again, but under a completely different set of circumstances, and because he knew he was talking to a pretty friendly audience—because these were the most progressive young ministers of the Methodist Church, that he was talking to, and there was probably thirty-five or forty of them in the room—so he felt he could tell them what plans he had. But I think he was ad libbing and making it up as he went along, because this was probably in 1933, and lo and behold, then later he did announce that he was running on the EPIC Campaign.

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QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

What did you think about it when you heard him speak at that point, and heard him talk about running for governor again?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, I was-

[production discussion]

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INTERVIEWER:

OK.

MORTON NEWMAN:

I first saw and heard Upton Sinclair in person at the invitation of some Methodist ministers in Southern California, probably somebody like Frank Toothaker or Wendell Miller-

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm going to want you to start again and not to mention all those names, because, you mention names, and then we have to explain who they are.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Ah, OK [laughs].

INTERVIEWER:

OK, start again.

MORTON NEWMAN:

[coughs] The first time that I saw Upton Sinclair in person, was at a meeting called by the-

INTERVIEWER:

Sorry, I'm going to stop you one more time. If you could look at me when you talk.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Sure.

INTERVIEWER:

OK.

MORTON NEWMAN:

I was trying to remember- [laughs]

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, that's good.

MORTON NEWMAN:

[coughs] The first time that I saw Upton Sinclair in person was at a meeting sponsored by the Methodist Federation for Social Action, and at that time he announced that he was considering, again, running for governor of California, but that he would do it in a very different way than he had run in the past. This event, was something that we were all very excited about.

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QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm going to, start again with being excited about it, and you always can, you stop and start, it's fine. How, what did you feel about him running for governor?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, it sounded like a very great idea, though he stressed that he had no expectations of being elected, but that he thought that the educational effect of his running would be a tremendously good thing for the state of California, and that he was particularly serious about running because he had recently been in Germany and had observed the rise of, the rising of Hitler there, and was fearful that something of that sort might happen in the United States. And if it did, it would certainly affect the people of California. So, we were quite excited about the prospect of his running, and were anxious to fit in in any way that we possibly could, into such a campaign.

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QUESTION 6
INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's take you from the point where you first heard Upton Sinclair speak, to the point where you got involved in EPIC. But what, do you remember how you first then got involved in the EPIC Campaign?

MORTON NEWMAN:

I think that it was simply that friends said that there was going to be an EPIC meeting of young people and here it is, let's go. I went along primarily as an observer and as an interested person, but very shortly became more involved and was taking on responsibilities and agreeing to do certain things in the campaign.

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QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

But what did EPIC mean to you?

MORTON NEWMAN:

It meant-

INTERVIEWER:

OK, instead of saying 'it', can you say 'EPIC Campaign'?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh, EPIC, I think it meant to me, and to other young people, a chance to examine our society, the way it worked, and to see that the organization of society that was resulting in so many people in unemployment, was not the only form that society could take, that there were remedies, that there were things that could be done. There were programs that could be inaugurated that could turn things around. So it was on a very optimistic basis that we had, if not all the answers that we had through the EPIC Campaign, the basic answers to changing the world we lived in.

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QUESTION 8
INTERVIEWER:

OK, tell me some of the, do you remember what some of the platform was, what some of the main points of EPIC was?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, the whole idea that things should be made for use, and not for profit, and the-

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm going to ask you to start again by telling me, 'the EPIC platform,' or 'the EPIC stood for'.

MORTON NEWMAN:

The EPIC idea was based on the key letters of the slogan: 'End Poverty in California'. Now we're saturated with acronyms and all sorts of initials, but at that time, it was a relatively new approach, and people were attracted to finding out what EPIC was all about, and they found out that it included the idea that things should be made for use, and not simply for profit. This brought into question the whole organization of our society, and the fact that certain people had been making great amounts of money from the ownership of the means of production. In the meantime, other people were going without jobs and going hungry because these wheels weren't turning, and the people who made a profit were no longer involved in the system because they couldn't see any chance of making more money for themselves.

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QUESTION 9
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me a little bit about going to an EPIC meeting, what was it like?

MORTON NEWMAN:

There was quite a number, for young people like myself, EPIC meetings very often took place in the daytime. For one thing, we had other things, social things, other meetings that took place at night, and because of unemployment it was not too difficult to say "We'll meet next Tuesday afternoon at two o'clock in the headquarters," or wherever, very often in a Methodist Church, for example. They'd set aside a basement room or some place where a meeting could take place, and usually it would be an organizational meeting, how to spread the word, how to get out more material, how to reach certain key youth leaders, that sort of thing. So that, there were, there was [coughs] , also, there was a mix in EPIC meetings of what you'd call 'educational material' in that sense. They would try to describe and try to analyze what was happening in California—what was happening in the world, for that matter—and would bring into it an understanding of fascism and an understanding of, or in some cases, would point to Socialism as the solution to the problems. That sort of thing.

[production discussion]

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QUESTION 10
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INTERVIEWER:

Did you ever attend any of the large meetings, and can you tell me what they were like?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, I attended meetings that were held in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and an EPIC meeting in the Shrine Auditorium would be publicized in the _EPIC News_, be publicized in meetings of clubs that were formed, actually there were clubs being formed, EPIC clubs, in the communities, and these were vehicles for getting material out, and all. When such a meeting would take place, and there were several of them, there would be five thousand people inside of the auditorium, it's full seating capacity, and there would, there might be four or five thousand people outside trying to get in.
** So they were very enthusiastic, very exciting. There were folk music singers, there were very often pitches for money, but those would be exciting too, there would be stories about how many issues of the _EPIC News_ had been circulated in the last few weeks, and these were mounting up into the tens of thousands, so they were very upbeat, very exciting. Then, when Upton Sinclair would be introduced, the audience would become quiet, and he would speak in a very conversational sort of way, he was not a great spell-binder at all. He spoke in a very simple, direct way, just like he was talking to you as an individual, mixed with a lot humor, a lot of literary allusions, but very understandable, very down-to-earth and not at all patronizing. I mean, whether you had a lot of education or very little education, his message was still very understandable to the audience, and would make them very enthusiastic, and they were of course very receptive and hung on every word that he had to say.

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QUESTION 11
INTERVIEWER:

You know, in a time when a lot of the popular speakers were almost, were really dynamic speakers, kind of and more kind of evangelical type, you know, speakers, what his appeal, why could he, you know, what was his appeal in his speaking?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Upton Sinclair's appeal was commonsensical in a way, I mean it, he—without oversimplifying—he could still describe and analyze a situation with a mix of humor and figures of speech that everyone understood and responded to. He didn't depend upon pyrotechnics, he was depending primarily upon getting an idea from himself out to his audience, out to an individual, out to a group, whatever. It was, it's hard to indicate anyone today who does the same thing, for example—well, speakers today are different.

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QUESTION 12
INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's, let's go back and be inside the meeting, you're in the middle of a meeting, there are maybe five thousand people there, there are maybe five thousand people outside, I mean, did you feel like you were really part of a big movement, I mean, just give me a little bit more.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, yes, because from the initial stages when we had high expectations, they were not of actually winning the election. They were more, reaching large numbers of people and influencing their thinking, but as the campaign-

[production discussion]

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QUESTION 13
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INTERVIEWER:

OK, I want you to tell me again about being in a meeting, and the whole concept that it was part of a movement as much as a part of an election.

MORTON NEWMAN:

In a public EPIC meeting, there was a great deal of excitement, because they would have brief speeches reporting from various parts of Los Angeles County, for example, what was happening in the various clubs, and of course, there was sort of a competition among clubs to do more than anybody else, so they would vie with each other on the number of new members, on the number of literature, on the number, and pieces of literature very often meant sales of literature, because the EPIC Campaign was based on the idea that it would be self-sufficient and not end with a heavy indebtedness or anything of that kind. And further, the feeling that you paid a penny, three cents, ten cents for a piece of campaign material, you valued it more than if it were simply handed to you and in some cases immediately thrown away.

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QUESTION 14
INTERVIEWER:

OK, let's just get back to that for a second, was that unusual, to have to pay for literature?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh, it was not only unusual, it had never been heard of before, as far as I know, and of course there was, not been heard of in California, it was very unusual, 'cause usually there'd be more money behind a candidate. Even good candidates would raise funds to provide some sort of printed material, but in this case, printed material, it came at a, at the cost that the printer had been paid.

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QUESTION 15
INTERVIEWER:

OK, let me just ask you another question on this, did people feel because they were also paying for it, in this way, that, they, you know, that Upton Sinclair wasn't beholden to any special interests?

MORTON NEWMAN:

That's part of it. In other words, it was financed by the people who were interested in the campaign, and it wasn't depending upon Wall Street money, it wasn't depending on San Francisco money, it was depending upon the nickels, dimes, and pennies of large numbers of people in California.

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QUESTION 16
INTERVIEWER:

OK, great. OK, so tell me, let's get back into the meeting. OK.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Yes. So you would have exciting reports, you would have some bit of news, that some organization had just endorsed the campaign, or that some particular public figure had come out in support of it, and then of course there'd be certain derisive things. When the would mention, the auditorium would fill with boos and hisses and that sort of thing, so it was a very exciting situation, and everyone involved in it seemed to view that it was something important that was going on.

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QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

So, you had told me before that one of things that was interesting about the campaign was that there were also identifiable villains and heroes, and so was that like something, when the audience, when you were saying they booed, would people, when you were there, you hear the expressions of emotion on one side or the other?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh, that's very true. That, for example, if you mentioned Wall Street, if you mentioned Rockefeller, if you mentioned even Henry Ford, these were viewed as part of the establishment that was responsible for unemployment and responsible for the misery, so that people were very free with venting their feelings, and you could get an immediate response from the audience simply by a catalogue of names. They were really divided into black and white, good and bad, and there was almost nothing in between.

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QUESTION 18
INTERVIEWER:

OK, great. Just another thing I'm curious about on meetings, you say that there would be thousands of people inside and thousands of people outside, did Sinclair just have so much support that you couldn't fit, that you couldn't find auditoriums big enough, or what was [unintelligible]?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well that was, that was part of it, that, and of course this doesn't take into consideration the meetings that were held in the basement of churches, in trade union halls. There were a lot of community cooperatives at that time that, in some cases, had places where they could meet, storefronts, and that sort of thing. These would be meetings of twenty-five to a hundred-and-fifty people, but the really big meetings in Los Angeles were at the Shrine, and that was the largest auditorium available. It could be filled, and people who were in favor were excited by the fact that it could be filled, and the people who were opposed were frightened by the fact that it could be filled, because it was common knowledge that the opposition would have great difficulty in matching it. In fact, they never tried to match it, in terms of popular meetings.

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QUESTION 19
INTERVIEWER:

OK, and did people also pay to get into the meetings?

MORTON NEWMAN:

I don't remember. Probably, but I don't remember.

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QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

OK. Tell me a little bit about, you told me a story about bumper stickers, and how bumper stickers were used in campaigns-

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh, in the EPIC Campaign, and in most campaigns in California, I think that we were using windshield stickers rather than bumper stickers, and-

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I want you to start again and not tell me, just say 'we were using windshield stickers'.

MORTON NEWMAN:

All right. Well, in the EPIC Campaign, windshield stickers were the favored way of letting an automobile get involved in the political campaign.

INTERVIEWER:

All right, stop, OK, could you just start that again?

MORTON NEWMAN:

The—

INTERVIEWER:

Could you just tell me why, instead of describing that one, could you just tell me why bumper, how bumper stickers were used? How the window stickers, the window—

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, window stickers were used to indicate support for any given candidate, and the EPIC Campaign provided a share of stickers for the windshields of automobiles. This was before automobile windshields were declared not suitable for stickers. Actually, the opposition, the Merriam people and the campaign, they had their stickers for windshields, and people would count, in a parking lot, "I saw twenty-five Sinclair stickers," "I saw fifteen Merriam stickers," or whatever the ratio would be. On the Methodist Church parking lot where my family attended, the cars were segregated by the drivers into the part of the parking lot where the Sinclair cars went, and the part of the parking lot where the Merriam cars went. There was quite a, quite, quite obvious what, where people stood, and I think there was a higher percentage of cars that carried such stickers than you find in campaigns now. There was a tremendous popular upswelling of participation.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, you were telling me-

[production discussion]

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INTERVIEWER:

OK.

MORTON NEWMAN:

In the excitement of the campaign, people were displaying on their automobile windshields the candidate of their choice. In this print shop where I worked part-time, and on a very iffy sort of basis, the delivery truck for the print shop had a 'Merriam for Governor' sticker on the windshield. And when I had to make deliveries in that vehicle, I would cover the Merriam sticker with a Sinclair sticker, and I would rationalize this as doing a favor to the company, because I knew that in some of the working-class areas where I had to make deliveries, feelings ran very high, and that sometimes strange things would happen to windshields that had Merriam stickers. They might even have a rock thrown through them, and this would be a very strong expression of political disapproval. Not wanting to have my company car spoiled in this way, I felt that I was doing them a favor by putting a Sinclair sticker, which I would always retrieve before parking the car. That was what was going on in those days.

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QUESTION 21
INTERVIEWER:

OK, can you tell me some examples of, you know, there's a big campaign against Sinclair. How did it manifest, how did you experience it?

MORTON NEWMAN:

The main campaign against Sinclair in the Los Angeles area, seemed to be carried on in two ways: one, the had a daily box or a daily anti-Sinclair story, beginning on the front page, and at the same time, when you'd go to a motion-picture theater, the newsreel you would see would very often have, somewhere, in that newsreel, an anti-Sinclair segment, which we later found out, and you've probably talked to some of the people who knew what was going on, but these newsreels were simply manufactured out of whole cloth, and people who were portrayed as 'bums', they called them, hobos-

[production discussion]

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INTERVIEWER:

I'm going to ask you again about the and the newsreels, but let's go to the first. Tell me about seeing these boxes in the and how you reacted to it, whether you paid any attention to it or not, or did it make you angry, what...?

MORTON NEWMAN:

The could be depended upon, at that period, to have a daily anti-Sinclair story, usually a box on the front page. Very often it took the form of a quote from some book that Upton Sinclair might have written twenty years previously, a quotation that was completely out of context, but nevertheless might be viewed as a damaging quotation. The was known as the anti-union, really anti-labor paper of Los Angeles, but it was, at the same time, had a certain credibility and a certain respectability. One of my grandparents took the , another of my grandparents wouldn't have the in their front door, so there was always a mixed feeling. First of all, many cases I could immediately detect the error in the story or immediately see how it was taken out of context; in some cases it was something so obscure that you would wonder just exactly what it was all about.

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QUESTION 22
INTERVIEWER:

Tell me, tell me now again, when you read it, did you feel upset, did you dismiss, did you-?

MORTON NEWMAN:

No, no, you couldn't dismiss it, because the was sort of the paper of record of Los Angeles and had sizeable circulation, it was read by professional people and all. It couldn't be ignored, in fact, and it made us very angry, but we always read them, or as often as we could, because we wanted to be prepared to, you know, to show how untrue they were or how far from the mark they were.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, I'm going to ask you actually to say-

[production discussion]

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MORTON NEWMAN:

Picking up the , looking for the anti-Sinclair story was always an easy thing to do, because the story was always prominently displayed on the front page. The reaction on my part was fury at it, and annoyance, and, you know, the usual feeling that the press was misusing its influence. And at the same time, sometime, sort of amusement by it, because if anyone really read the book that was cited or the excerpt that it was taken from, they would know in many cases that Sinclair was, the character in the Sinclair novel might actually be talking against that very point of view. In other words, it didn't represent Sinclair's point of view, it represented a character in a novel that he may have written ten or fifteen years before. But the fact that it was paraded before the people in a way to try to discredit him was very annoying, and made us furious. And we would trade invectives against the any time that we got together with another supporter of Sinclair and say, did you see the _Times_ today, can you imagine how they dredged up that story, or what did they think they were doing, because it was so outrageous. But nevertheless, the _Times_ spun them out, and there they were, day after day.

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QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

OK, now, when you, you read them, and then you would be able to, when you would talk to people on the street trying to tell them about EPIC, you'd have to explain to them...?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Very often you would, and of course, in some cases, you would use it as a vehicle for-

INTERVIEWER:

OK, tell me what you're, tell me what you're talking about.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, I [coughs] , and sometimes, you'd actually take the story, have it with you, and use it as an example of how you couldn't depend upon the , you couldn't depend upon the press generally, because they were filled with misrepresentation and lies and so forth. So that it had a useful sort of character to it, but at the same time, by and large, we were disgusted and very angry about it.

[production discussion]

MORTON NEWMAN:

The showing of Upton Sinclair in the primary
** of the election campaign was so magnificent and so far exceeded even our wildest expectations
** , because there had been a very strong campaign against Upton Sinclair within the Democratic Party, and [coughs] there was the feeling that some of the Democrats who were running against him would come through with a higher vote than they did. So that when it turns out that Sinclair had an amazingly high voter response in the primaries, it suddenly became apparent to us that this was for real, that here was a chance to elect Sinclair.
** All of us became political experts at that point, who'd been active in the primaries, because from our original estimate that it would be a very good educational campaign, suddenly we could see victory in the offing, and felt that by putting the right combination together that we were unstoppable, that Sinclair could be elected, that the EPIC Campaign would succeed.

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QUESTION 24
INTERVIEWER:

So, was the Democratic Party a little bit nervous and did Sinclair feel like he had to go meet with Roosevelt directly?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, first of all, Sinclair was much too sophisticated to, he had had a great deal of experience in the political world, and he knew that he was not an acceptable candidate, certainly to the people who had the money to sponsor campaigns or to the traditional Democratic figures. On the other hand, he had, by this time, a sense of mission himself beyond what he had had in the early stages, and I think that he felt, and we felt, that if he had a chance to talk to FDR in person, that there could be an endorsement from the White House, which would be a tremendously important factor in the finals.
** It was for that reason that rather than depending upon, you know, emissaries, Sinclair, in October, himself went to Washington and there was a whole story in itself.

INTERVIEWER:

I want you to start, just at the end, start again, because he actually went in September.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh! [laughs]

INTERVIEWER:

Yeah, it's OK, just tell me-

[production discussion]

INTERVIEWER:

-so tell me that he, you know, that he went to see—you don't have to say what date—he went to see Roosevelt, and were you, and what was the result of the meeting?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well we, the young people that I was associated with in the campaign, we were very optimistic, very naive, and we thought that with his strong arguments and with the fine showing that he had made in the primary-

INTERVIEWER:

I'm going to ask you to start one more time, and instead of saying "he", tell me who you're talking about.

MORTON NEWMAN:

We felt that Sinclair, because of his ability to express his ideas, and that Sinclair, because of the splendid showing that he'd made in the primaries, would be able to obtain an endorsement from FDR. We were very excited that he was going to Washington, and we expected momentarily that through the radio or through the newspapers, we would hear that the red carpet had been rolled out for him, and he had the blessings of Roosevelt and of the national Democratic figures. As the days went by, this feeling began to diminish, and we began, because of course because we're being fed stories by the press and through the radio, of the fact that he wasn't having an opportunity to, Sinclair was not having an opportunity to present his case firsthand to the President. Of course, there were rumors floating around that he was completely rebuffed, there were rumors floating around that he was getting a formally correct treatment but that it wasn't going to mean anything. But always there was this great expectation, that at the very last minute, there would be some message that indicated that Roosevelt was supporting Sinclair. We were, of course, waiting for that moment, and we were told before certain speeches from the White House that this would be the speech where there would be some sort of favorable comment-

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QUESTION 25
INTERVIEWER:

Actually, what I'm going to do is take you back to that, to that moment. Sinclair announced that one of his, one of Roosevelt's fireside chats, that that night he would announce, he would give some kind of endorsement to the idea of production for use. So tell me about, you probably knew at that point that, you know, that there was that fireside chat, and people were waiting to hear whether Roosevelt would say something.

MORTON NEWMAN:

First—the fireside chat—

[production discussion]

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MORTON NEWMAN:

The fireside chat from the White House, was one of the most listened-to radio programs in the United States, and the one that had been indicated as the one that was going to, in some mysterious way, endorse the EPIC Campaign, or at least say something favorable about a concept of production for use
** which had been the center-piece of the EPIC Campaign, and it would, in other words, finally set to rest the question as to whether or not the White House looked with favor upon Sinclair. So, we were all glued to our radio sets to hear this, and ready to pounce on whatever phrases we could find that would
** seem to reinforce this expectation, and we listened, and listened, and listened.
** Fireside chats were not lengthy, but they required concentration and listening, and we listened carefully, and we never found the phrase, we never found the endorsement, and the people supporting the EPIC Campaign like myself were very disappointed.
** Though, to a certain extent we were becoming more sophisticated about the way politics worked and the way politicians functioned. At the same time we were not too surprised, and we felt that we had enough momentum that we were going to win, even in spite of this.

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QUESTION 26
INTERVIEWER:

But did you think that a few words from Roosevelt at that time would have really helped?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Oh, it would have helped tremendously, in retrospect, because it would have sort of re-invigorated the campaign. It was, there's a, in the course of a long campaign—and this had been a lengthy campaign—there becomes a sort of a plateau that you reach where you don't feel that you're really making any, or that you have no momentum, you might say, and a favorable comment from Roosevelt would have sparked this campaign in its closing days, and, we think, would have made a lot of difference.

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QUESTION 27
INTERVIEWER:

Did, so, so were you feeling kind of towards the close of the campaign, towards the end of the campaign, that, that some of the anti-Sinclair stuff was really beginning to take effect? Were you discouraged at any time, or did you feel that the movement was still building?

MORTON NEWMAN:

I was not discouraged, and the young people that I was working with were not discouraged. In fact, we sort of acted on each other, in a way, because we were in it together. Further, we were aware that there were some effects of all the adverse publicity, and all the adverse efforts were having some effect, but we still didn't think that those were of a sufficient magnitude to rob Sinclair of victory in the final election. And as a matter of fact, the night of the election, when we heard the returns, our-

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QUESTION 28
INTERVIEWER:

I want you, sorry, I want to stop you for a second. I want you to now just tell me about the night of the election.

MORTON NEWMAN:

On the night of the election, we were gathered in all kinds of groupings, in my case, with a whole number of friends waiting to hear from the radio reports that Sinclair had been elected [coughs] , which we, at that point, thought was going to happen for sure. As the results came in, and they were spotty results at first, it was clear that Upton Sinclair had won heavily in certain precincts and certain areas, but at the same time there were other areas in which the reports were coming in, and showed that Merriam was gaining the largest share of the votes. As the evening went on, and it became clear that rather than victory we were faced with defeat, we couldn't accept it, we weren't good losers, we were absolutely convinced that Sinclair had been robbed, we were convinced that the ballot boxes had been stuffed, we were convinced that the will of the people had not been demonstrated, and that if it had been truly counted and the ballots had been honestly tabulated, that Sinclair would have won.

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QUESTION 29
INTERVIEWER:

So this, but, why were you so convinced, what was, did it run so contrary to what you were feeling and experiencing as part of the campaign?

MORTON NEWMAN:

The campaign, it's very tricky to analyze a campaign, even at the time, or even afterwards, because particularly in this case, what had become true was that we were having successful meetings, but that it was a repetitious sort of thing. In other words, very likely ninety percent of an audience had been to a meeting a week or two before. They were not new people, but we were counting everybody, we'd say well, there was a meeting at this, that, and this number, and that number, and so many people at club meetings and all, and there's undoubtedly a lot of wishful thinking on our part. Then we were so committed, and it's hard now, I mean, but at that time we were absolutely, first, the winning of the campaign seemed the most important thing in the world to us at the time, to lose it would be an absolutely fatal future for us, so the expectations were high. Everyone we talked to was in agreement with us, as it seemed, and we just couldn't believe that money and lies were going to be sufficiently strong to defeat such a movement.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, great.

[production discussion]

MORTON NEWMAN:

The night of the election was an exciting one. I found myself in the living room of a friend, surrounded by a dozen other young people that I knew, all convinced that the last minute work that we had done at the polling places, the last minute efforts to get out the vote, had succeeded, and we were simply waiting enthusiastically, expecting that we were on the threshold of a tremendous victory. The thought of losing just wasn't in our heads, we were going to win, and we knew that all the forces of corruption and evil had been arrayed against us, but we were just convinced that they weren't sufficiently strong, and we thought that as the primaries had been such a victory, the finals would be an equal victory. When we could begin to realize, as the late returns came in, begin to realize that somehow, the expectations were not being realized, that somehow Sinclair was beginning to trail in the vote, and that in some cases-

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QUESTION 30
INTERVIEWER:

I actually want you to tell me again about when the election results came in, but tell it simple, OK?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, when the election results came in, we went from an exuberant feeling to a much more serious feeling. The early returns indicated that, in Los Angeles County, that Sinclair was going to win, and we were reinforced in our expectations that victory was right at hand. As the results came in, it had a very sobering effect. The jubilation was replaced by a much more searching sort of thing, as to what happened, what went wrong, but we felt that the explanation was not that we had really lost, but simply that we had been, that Sinclair had been robbed, that the ballot boxes must have been stuffed, that votes had not been counted, that somehow or other we were victims of a travesty of a kind.

INTERVIEWER:

I want you one more time, just the very end of that, to just say when the election, when the ballot boxes, when you heard the election results, you were sure that Sinclair had been robbed of his victory.

MORTON NEWMAN:

[coughs] As the vote favored Merriam, and Sinclair was seen to be trailing, we were sure that something had gone wrong, not in our campaign, not in the work that we had done, but something had gone wrong in the counting of votes, that there had been some stealing of votes, that there had been some corruption of polling places. In other words, we felt that we had actually won, but that victory had been robbed, and that it was only through some foul play that Sinclair was not announced as the winner.

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QUESTION 31
INTERVIEWER:

OK, good. OK, do you remember seeing the _Time Magazine_ article, was that seen as a high-point in the campaign, that he had gotten all this national exposure?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Well, we were always pleased, because California did not have the national importance at that point, the population was not that great, and California was not viewed as being the importance that-

[production discussion]

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QUESTION 32
[change to camera roll 314:28][change to sound roll 314:16]

[production discussion]

INTERVIEWER:

So I want you to tell me that whether, about the, about the prevalence, or the abundance of anti-Sinclair material, and what it meant to you.

MORTON NEWMAN:

Everywhere you looked,
** everywhere you listened, there was anti-Sinclair material.
** It was pervasive, but we always dismissed it, because when it came to actually counting people, the pro-Sinclair, EPIC forces, could
** always outnumber any anti-Sinclair forces. So we thought that anything we read that was anti,
** anything we heard that was anti, was just, somebody with money
** had been responsible, and that the bulk of the people were supportive and would turn out at the polls, Sinclair would be elected, and that everything would be rosy in the future of California.

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QUESTION 33
INTERVIEWER:

OK, great. Tell me about, you said, that even when things got difficult, when you heard Sinclair speak, you said there was a character about him of being unflappable, tell me about that.

[production discussion]

[slate marker visible on screen]
MORTON NEWMAN:

Upton Sinclair himself was a pillar of strength during the campaign. In every public appearance he seemed to be unflappable.
** In interviews, he seemed to be absolutely in control, he had good humor, he had answers that were to the point,
** he had illustrations, and he was on top of the situation.
** To the rest of us, it was always the feeling that we had really supported the right person, because he was on top of things.

INTERVIEWER:

So never, when anything was bad, he always, you never felt it from him?

MORTON NEWMAN:

No, not at all. I mean, on the contrary, he was always positive, upbeat, and as far as we could see, very optimistic.

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QUESTION 34
INTERVIEWER:

OK, great. Can you tell me very briefly again about the fact that you had to pay for pamphlets? That, the literature, that that need was paid for by people.

MORTON NEWMAN:

One of the strengths of the EPIC Campaign, was that it was self-financing. It was financed through pennies, nickels, and dimes that were paid by people working, unemployed, young people, old people, who wanted to get the story of the EPIC Campaign, they would pay for it. If they were taking literature from the headquarters, the literature wasn't forced on them. On the other hand, there was a price tag on it, and they would dig deep in their pockets, satisfy the person at the counter that they were paying for it, and the campaign literature was very much, was highly thought of because it did represent money out of pocket to people who didn't have very much money in their pocket.

INTERVIEWER:

So people, so the campaign, so could you tell me, just very simply, that campaign literature was not given away, it was sold, and that helped finance the campaign?

MORTON NEWMAN:

The sale of campaign literature in the EPIC Campaign was one big factor in keeping the campaign financially afloat, because while campaign literature was sold on a bare cost basic, with I'm sure very little left over, nevertheless, the bare fact that money was being spent for campaign literature kept that which would usually be a drain upon a campaign, from happening, and that was a self-liquidating portion.

[production discussion]

[slate marker visible on screen]
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QUESTION 35

[production discussion]

MORTON NEWMAN:

The anti-Sinclair, anti-EPIC newsreels were a source of real displeasure and anger to those of us in the campaign itself. We could see through them, we could see how contrived they were, we had the feeling that they had been staged and that they were simply-

INTERVIEWER:

I want you to actually start again, just be in the, don't, don't analyze it, just, you're in the movie theater, you see it on the screen, what do you feel?

MORTON NEWMAN:

Feel anger, because this, having no effect on those of us in the campaign, we could see that it might effect some person who had not really looked into what was happening-

INTERVIEWER:

I'm actually going to stop you again and have you start one more time on this, OK, and tell me what you see, I mean, you know, when I first started seeing these newsreels on this screen, it made me angry, but I was worried about-

MORTON NEWMAN:

-the effect that it might have? Yeah. The newsreels made me very angry, I thought that they were a waste, but on the other hand, I was afraid that they might influence somebody else, and the fear of the fact that they were reaching such a large audience would have an effect, was always there, so that while I and my friends thought we could see through them, we on the other hand thought that they might be a factor in the election itself.

INTERVIEWER:

OK, great.

[production discussion]

[end of interview]